The North Island Edition: Where to Stay Local in New Zealand's Best Wine Regions

The North Island wine region of New Zealand is an ideal location for conventional grape growing, with some of the warmest and sunniest ripening conditions in the country. The region is particularly renowned for cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and chardonnay varietals but is also home to varieties such as pinot noir, shiraz, and viognier.

However, not only is the wine of exceptional quality, but the region's wine tourism scene is equally impressive. Travellers have the opportunity to discover the area's myriad vineyards and wineries, each boasting its own distinctive selection, inviting cellar doors, and, in some cases, innovative lodging options.

Whether you're a wine aficionado or just looking to enjoy a leisurely weekend of wine tasting and the outdoors, the North Island wine region is a must-visit destination.

Join Locay as we share with you the stunning wine regions up North perfect for your next local vacation.

From the Paihia wharf, you can arrange easy day trips to the outer islands, hook into a fishing expedition, or catch a quick ferry to the quaint town of Russell. Explore this charming village with its character-filled streets and historical sites, and soak up the serene coastal ambience that overlooks the Bay of Islands. Paihia is also just down the road from the historic Treaty House at Waitangi Treaty Grounds, which marks the birth of New Zealand as a nation. Explore the grounds of the Treaty House and gain insights into the Māori and European heritage that shaped the country’s identity.

However, with all this in mind, just a short 20-minute drive from Paihia takes you to Kerikeri, renowned for its vineyards and horticulture. Cellar doors here are plentiful amongst rolling hills and native forests. Some of the major cellar doors to consider a visit are The Fat Pig (one of the older vineyards in the area), Sovrano Estate (with its family history spawning from Italy), and the famous Marsden Estate.

Accommodation options in the area mainly consist of motor lodges and older boutique motels. For a laid-back, contemporary style short-term stay by the bay, Paihia Beach Resort and Spa is a great choice. This convenient resort provides easy access to local wineries and offers ample opportunities to gather insider tips on the region.

At the other end of the scale, the exclusive Landing Residences offer an impressive selection of four private luxury homes set on 1000 acres of pristine farming land, perfect for those looking to extend the experience and take their time. While these stunning design-led retreats come with a price tag, there are a few services and amenities that their local team is unable to accommodate. This is by far one of the most luxurious settings, boasting its own private vineyard and specialty villa.

If you're looking to immerse yourself in grass-roots local energy, you cannot miss mentioning the Duke of Marlborough. This iconic pub and boutique accommodation, located right in the heart of Russell, offers a safe middle ground with its 38 rooms and a superb waterfront location. Russell is just a short 15-minute ferry ride away from Paihia, and not only is it the oldest active hotel in New Zealand, it has also been recently refurbished to elevate its guest facilities.

The Boatshed Waiheke Island

Waiheke Island

Just a 40-minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland, Waiheke Island is a world away, a haven of beautiful vineyards, olive groves, and beaches. In fact, there is an entire community that commutes daily into the city of Auckland because they know exactly the value of their charmed island life.

Getting around the island is a breeze. Visitors can hop on a public bus, hail a taxi, or rent a mountain bike, motor scooter, or car. If you've already got your wheels and want to bring them along, you can take them on the car ferry that operates daily. The gorgeous sandy beaches at Oneroa, Palm Beach, and Onetangi gently slope into the Hauraki Gulf, creating the perfect setting for swimming, kayaking, or enjoying a delightful picnic. If you're an avid explorer, uncover the island's trails that wind along cliff tops, descend to the beaches, and weave through serene pockets of native forest.

Visitors can arrange day tours to Waiheke Island, which include transfers to some of the island's most famous vineyards. However, for those who are not in it for the crowds and prefer to take it at their own pace, we strongly recommend an overnight stay.

The Boatshed Waiheke Island is one of the islands best-kept accommodation secrets and worthy of a few nights away. It's five guest suites, and two private bungalows can be found perched on the hill overlooking Little Oneroa Beach on Waiheke Island. Built and designed by Auckland-based designer David Scott, the lodge is uniquely New Zealand and has a stylish yet authentic beachside feel.

For those seeking a truly luxurious experience with the star being its vineyards, a trip to the Mudbrick Vineyard is the ideal destination for a long degustation lunch, wine tasting, and a night away. The two 'Olive and Merlot' cottage accommodations on site offer a dreamy experience, with two classical bedrooms and rustic decor. The vineyard also has six-guest luxury lodge accommodations with three bedrooms and breathtaking views of the sea and the surrounding greenery. Inside, the styling is romantic, relaxed, and elegant. Additionally, each of these private cottage and lodge retreats features a spa pool and a barbeque for your ultimate relaxation and independent culinary escapades.

Cedar House

Gisborne Region

Prepare yourself to embrace the magnificent morning splendour in Gisborne, proudly holding the distinction of being the ultimate destination for sunrise enthusiasts and being the world's foremost vantage point to witness the break of dawn. This remarkable achievement, combined with the breathtaking reputation of its wine exports, is more than sufficient motivation to discover and fully engage with this captivating locale.

Gisborne, renowned globally for its tantalising cuisine, top-tier wineries, craft breweries, and epic surf spots like Makorori Beach, holds the unofficial title of the 'chardonnay capital of New Zealand'. With abundant sunshine, fertile clay loam soils, and a talented lineup of winemakers, Gisborne is renowned for crafting outstanding chardonnay, gewurztraminer, viognier, pinot gris, merlot, and malbec.

A Locay favourite for accommodation is Cedar House, which is bookable year-round and worthy of an early morning wake-up call. A stunning and scenic character-filled home, this stylish house is renowned as one of Gisborne's most luxurious boutique stays. This authentic guest house experience was built in 1908 and has been much loved for over 100 years. The property showcases four elegantly furnished two-person king rooms as well as a private abode ideal for groups and families of up to six guests. Each room has Netflix, and there is a shared lounge available for guest use. This beautifully restored mansion is located only a minute’s walk from town, the farmers’ market, and many of Gisborne's cafes and restaurants.

The Farm at Cape Kidnappers

Te Awanga
Hawkes Bay

Blessed with long sunshine hours and fertile plains, Hawke's Bay is one of New Zealand’s most productive growing regions. It is also the second largest when it comes to wine production.

The Farm at Cape Kidnappers is an extraordinary luxury accommodation, situated on a sprawling 6,000 acre sheep and cattle ranch with stunning vistas over the Pacific in the Hawke’s Bay wine region. With its renowned golf course and jaw-dropping views of the Pacific Ocean, while its price point may not suit everyone, this place is a must-visit for golf enthusiasts. Whether it's the 22 ultra-chic and spacious cottage suites or the exclusive four-bedroom Owner’s Cottage, you'll find yourself immersed in world-class luxury. Enjoy the par 71 championship golf course, designed by the legendary Tom Doak; indulge in their on-site lavish spa; venture on Kiwi Discovery walks to observe New Zealand's native birds; or partake in exhilarating Can-Am tours through the station. Horseback riding and mountain biking are also available.

If you feel like hitting the road, cycling is a hip and trendy way to discover the fantastic wineries and cellar doors in Hawke's Bay. You won't be disappointed by the extensive network of cycling paths that stretch over 200 kilometres, known as the Hawke's Bay Trails. Customise your ride as you please, with a plethora of delectable wine and food spots sprinkled along the route.

Martinborough Hotel


Explore the charming wine village of Martinborough, just over an hour's drive from Wellington. This historic town is at the heart of what is known as the 'Classic New Zealand Wine Trail'.

Martinborough boasts exceptional pinot noir produced by predominantly family-owned vineyards in this small regional town. It is no wonder it is a must-visit on the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail, which showcases more than 20 wineries, all conveniently located within walking or biking distance from the quaint village square.

Accommodation options in this area are filled with classic charm, offering stays at country estates, boutique hotels, or self-contained heritage cottages. A Locay favourite is the Martinborough Hotel, centrally located among the town's many local highlights. Relax and unwind in the cosy Kitchener Library, with its extensive collection of old and new books, large gas fireplace, and comfortable seating—the perfect hideout for a wintery afternoon. Classic guest rooms are immaculately cared for and tastefully styled with a thoughtful English countryside aesthetic.

During sunny days, the hotel's scenic rose garden and courtyard serve as a perfect space for guests to enjoy a game of Petanque after a day of exploring cellar doors.

Maree Sheehan
Potts Point, Sydney

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